Disease. Illness. Finance trouble. Marital unrest. Family feuds. The storms of life are all around us, sometimes raging so out of control, we wonder how and where we can find peace. Yet there is a refuge, if you look upward and see the glory of the Lord amidst the storm. When you’re navigating hardships and longing for shelter, here are a few tips for surviving the trial.
1. Remember, no matter what happens, God is still good, worthy to be praised
In the darkest storms of life, sometimes we can feel isolated and abandoned, yet God never leaves us or forsakes you. Sometimes our hardships are so out of control and circumstances are so grim, we forget that we serve a MIGHTY and POWERFUL God. A God who is perfect, has never sinned and who loves you with a love that in our humanity, we can not fully comprehend. A God that in our darkest hour, when all feels hopeless, desires our praise and worship. A God that when we are in the pit of despair, wants us to look to Him as the source of hope and shelter as a sign of obedience and an act of worship, even when it takes everything we have.
2. Determine your anchor. Reset God as your lifeline, if he is not already your source of strength.
When the hardships come, it’s human nature to scramble to find something to cling to and to hold on to. Some cling to the people in their lives, some cling to old habits of comfort and some, are simply lost. Those people realize that when the trials come, they have nothing tangible to grasp a hold of, nothing to anchor them from the storm’s pounding waves. Amidst the many hardships I have weathered (cancer, infertility, Autism), I have learned to cling to God first, recognizing Him as my one true safe place and the only true source of wisdom, hope, peace and perseverance. Those without God as their anchor will find their source of comfort lacking and non-fulfilling. Maybe at first you may find a temporal refuge, but unless God is your lifeline, you will be left wanting, weary and restless, longing for a true safe place from the storm.
3. Cling to the Word of God.
I can honestly say, that while I became a Christian in high school, I didn’t open God’s Word on a regular basis until the storms of life surrounded me. At that point, my faith was immature, and more of a head knowledge, than a faith refined by fire and testing. But when I needed refuge from the storm, God summoned me to explore His Word for His promises of joy and strength. Only then did God’s Word truly become my foundation and I became insatiable, finally hungering for God’s testimony for the first time in my life. He met me there, in those pages day after day, often times as I skimmed the pages with tear filled eyes. It was in those Words I found camaraderie with the psalmists, as I could identify with their crying out to the Lord for help. It was there He showed me that true joy and delight is found in fellowship with Him alone. It was there He reminded me of His power, plan and purpose for my life. It was there I relived the crucifixion of Christ and wept, brokenhearted, knowing that He died for ME!
But don’t be like me. Don’t wait until you are in the midst of hardships to turn to God’s Word. His Word is LIFE, and He desires us to read it and live it more abundantly than ever before.
A favorite reference of my mine is Bible Gateway; which allows you access to the Bible on-line and you are able to search by topic, keyword or reference. God’s Word is at your fingertips with the click of a button and it is so handy when you are desperate to hear from Him but not sure where or how to start.
4. Recognize that storms don’t last forever.
While living the hardships, so many times it seems as though they will never end and life will never return to normal, but it will. Sometimes a new normal will emerge because the storm left a path of destruction behind it and life will never be exactly the same. Give yourself time to grieve and mourn. Don’t short yourself the tears that it takes to heal a broken heart and turn to the Lord to restore your brokenness. Through prayer and reading the Bible, let God be the balm to your wounds, healing you a little more each day.
5. Don’t do anything drastic.
Being completely vulnerable and open with you, my true friends in faith, sometimes when I was in a storm, I had drastic thoughts. Thoughts I knew that I would never act on, but thoughts of total and utter helplessness that I had to turn over to God on a minute by minute basis. When you have drastic thoughts and you feel desperate for a change, remember THOSE THOUGHTS ARE NOT FROM GOD. God desires to guide you through the storm and be your hope, so recognize His Truth and meditate on His promises, not the dark thoughts.
Focusing on the darkness, instead of the glory and power of the Lord, blinds us from seeing that in ANY situation, there is hope in the Lord and NOTHING is impossible for Him. But if you can’t help yourself from lingering in the darkness, seek help. Seek help from a trusted friend, church official or a professional and no there is NO SHAME in needing some help to guide you through the rough places.
6. Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
Often the world likes to make us feel that we should have our act completely together at all times. The world says that women need to be “supermom” and juggle all responsibilities perfectly at all times. But that is not truth. In those dark places, we are often not able to manage and need help. Sometimes we need help with the mundane chores of life or even need assistance in order to steal a few precious moments of sleep. Taking care of yourself is crucial to hanging on to a resemblance of normalcy, so take the help that is offered and ask for it when you need it.
7. How can you help others during this season?
Storms can be all consuming, day in and day out. While you may not be capable of volunteering or helping out because you are in your own hardship, reaching outside of your problems is such a comfort. You can find joy in knowing you blessed someone’s day while you are struggling yourself. This can be very difficult to do, because for me, my first instinct when in crisis is to isolate myself from friends, and not reach out to others, even if needed. Yet even a phone call or encouraging word can bring light to someone else who is in the darkness. Sharing stories of hardships is also a great way to identify with another who is dealing with her own crisis.
8. Count your blessings.
When storms rage, sometimes we are blinded to the many gifts we have been blessed with by our current circumstances. When the darkness closes in, look back at your life and recognize what God has already done, and hold tight to His promises for what He WILL continue to do. Even when it seems we’ve lost it all, remember the gifts God has blessed you with in your life, knowing the biggest blessing is still come.
For those who call Him Savior and Lord, eternity spent with Him is our hope for the future. It is a blessing, knowing that this life is not all there is. These momentary troubles will be a thing of the past, no matter how difficult they may seem now. When Jesus calls us home and every tear is wiped away, we will be freed from the pain and suffering of this world. That’s not only a blessing, that’s a promise worth clinging to God for and never letting go of hope.
How has God sheltered you and been your safe place in a storm? In a storm, have you been consumed or are you able to count your blessings?